Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year! I am travelling tomorrow. See you all next year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

George Orwell's 1984

I have been reading George Orwell's 1984. I am half way now. I want to share some quotes I like.

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme
will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.
The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his

Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was
forgotten, the lie became truth.

Orwell, in my opinions, probably wrote this fiction based on his experiences about
the British colonial rule in Burma. Orwell used to live in Katha and Moulmein
(Mawlamyine) while he was serving in the Indian Imperial Police. He hated imperialism
and quit the job. He later pursued his writing career.

The book vividly describes the danger of being watched and brain-washed by a
government. The main character, Winston Smith, works at the Records Department of a
fictional country called Oceania. The department is responsible for
producing records that are in line with the Party's agenda and deleting those
that are not.

Here is the link to
Wikipedia's article
about the novel.

The following is the link to full text for "1984", "Animal Farm" and
"Down and Out in Paris and London."


All of Orwell's work can be read free here.

More about George Orwell at

I think 1984 is a good read, especially for the people under an authoritative
government. I hope somebody translates this into Burmese.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Poor Burmese girls

Independent Appeal: Burma's girls are victims of China's
one-child policy

No one ever expected it to be the young girls of Burma who would become the
unintended victims of the one-child birth control policy in China. But two
decades on, children as young as 10 are being trafficked across the border from
Burma into China as child brides. They are sold into a future of high uncertainty.

Read more at the Independent.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

West meets East

I went to Chatuchak weekend market today. It was probably my fourth or fifth visit.

Chatuchak is a very famous tourists destination in Bangkok. A visit to Chatuchak is like an exotic cultural experience for tourists, especially for westerners from developed countries. Everything from Thai silk to modern fake Levi jeans can be found at the clothing stall booths as far as the eyes can see. The shops sell almost everything under the sun --- antique handicrafts and modern furniture, books and
collectable items, plants and pets, and you name it.

The visits to Chatuchak made me think about the cultural differences between people from developing and developed countries. Western tourists would look for antique ethnic handicrafts whereas the locals would not even care about those sections of the market.

In my observations, people from industrialized countries tend to appreciate this kind of picture.

Sunset in Bagan (Photo source is unknown and may have copyrights
held by the photographer)

Life in Burma

On the contrary, people from developing countries tend to be impressed by this kind of picture.

Shanghai Skyscrapers at night (Picture taken from http://www.cepolina.com)

Developing countries want to develop faster and faster at the cost of natural and cultural beauty. China, for example, is growing very fast at the cost of social stability, the income gap between the rich and poor becoming wider and wider [WSJ] They even want to build more dams in Burma [Irrawaddy].

Big international businesses are moving to less developed countries not only for cheap labor, but also for less strict environmental rules and regulations.

Developed countries, on the other hand, want to go back to history and preserve natural beauty. To tell you the truth, the air quality in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA (where I went to college) is better than the air quality in my home town, Mudon, Mon State in Burma. Thanks to cheap Thailand and Chinese made motorbikes and no rules regarding air pollution, the air quality in my hometown in Burma is getting worse these days. The fact that every factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has to follow strict environmental rules and regulations has made the environment very nice for the citizens of the

I, for one, am looking forward to the days when leaders in developing countries, Asean in particular, will start to talk about putting the interest and basic human rights of their own people ahead of the economic development. I hope that our region will grow without sacrificing our natural and cultural beauty.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Anger and Hatred

I was browsing through some Burmese blogs for information related to Burma.
Some blogs are very informative and entertaining. Some are very poetic and
imaginative. Some are full of gossips and personal attacks.

Some comments on the blogs did remind me of
while I was a student in the US.

Back in the days of early and late 90s, Usenet newsgroup were the places where
people shared information and ideas. It was before we know the web as we do today.

Anti-junta Burmese folks (they are majority in the virtual world of the Internet)
would fight with the pro-junta people (minority) in discussion groups.

Some people just got tired of arguing and defaced
on August 3, 2000.

People's hatred of the current military government can be seen online since the early
90s. The military has always crushed any calls for reforms in the history
(in 1988, 1996, and 2007 as far as my life span is concerned). The people are
generally not happy with the military regime. They expressed
their anger when they can.

Today's blogs are also just a reminder of how people are fed up with the current
situations in our beautiful country.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

U Thant Crisis

The following is from Wikipedia.

From the United Nations headquarters in New York, U Thant's body was flown back to Rangoon but no guard of honour or high ranking officials were on hand at the airport when the coffin arrived.

On the day of U Thant's funeral on December 5, 1974, tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Rangoon to pay their last respects to their distinguished countryman whose coffin was displayed at Rangoon's Kyaikasan race course for a few hours before the scheduled burial.

The coffin of U Thant was then snatched by a group of students just before it was scheduled to leave for burial in an ordinary Rangoon cemetery. The student demonstrators buried U Thant on the former grounds of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU), which Ne Win had dynamited and destroyed on July 8, 1962.

During the period of December 5 through December 11, 1974, the student demonstrators also built a temporary mausoleum for U Thant on the grounds of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU) and gave anti-government speeches. In the early morning hours of December 11, 1974, government troops stormed the campus, killed some of the students guarding the make-shift mausoleum, removed U Thant's coffin, and reburied it at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda, where it has continued to lie.

U Thant's Tomb, Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Yangon (Picture from Wikipedia)

Upon hearing of the storming of the Rangoon University campus and the forcible removal of U Thant's coffin, many people rioted in the streets of Rangoon. Martial law was declared in Rangoon and the surrounding metropolitan areas. What has come to be known as the U Thant crisis --- the student-led protests over the shabby treatment by the Ne Win government of U Thant --- was crushed by the Burmese government.